Iran: Worsening repression of dissent as election approaches
In the last three months, Amnesty International has received reports of waves of arbitrary arrests and harassment, directed particularly against members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minority communities, students, trade unionists and women’s rights activists. Amnesty International is aware of the apparent arbitrary arrest of, or other repressive measures taken against, over 220 individuals. Many of those arrested, if not all, are at risk of torture or other ill treatment. Other individuals arrested before this period have been sentenced to death. In addition, several newspapers have been closed down, and access to internet sites has been restricted, including some relating to human rights or which are operated by international broadcasters. These measures may in part be intended to stifle debate and to silence critics of the authorities in advance of the forthcoming presidential election in June 2009. All individuals and groups should be allowed to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including in ways which dissent from state policies and practices, in the run-up to the presidential election.
Amnesty International has documented repeatedly how vaguely worded legislation is being used to silence the most active sectors of the Iranian population. Charges such as “acting against state security”, “spreading lies”,“propaganda against the system”, “creating unease in the public mind”, “insulting the holy sanctities” and “defamation of state officials” are used to target members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minorities as well as human rights and other civil society activists. Such laws and practices violate Iran’s obligations under Articles 18, 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding freedom of belief, expression, assembly and association.
Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian authorities to end such repressive measures and to uphold the rights to freedom of belief, expression, assembly and association. Vaguely-worded provisions in the legislation of Iran which are being used to restrict these essential freedoms should be repealed or reviewed to bring them in line with Iran’s obligations under international human rights law.
Anyone held as a prisoner of conscience, solely on account of their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, or on account of their religious belief, should be released immediately and unconditionally. Others detained should be released unless they are to be promptly charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried fairly. All detainees and prisoners should be protected from torture or other ill-treatment.
Amnesty International has not been permitted to visit Iran for first-hand investigation of the human rights situation there since shortly after the Islamic Revolution which took place 30 years ago. While Amnesty International was not always able to speak directly to, and collect testimonies from, the people subjected to human rights violations, whose cases are mentioned in this report, the details are consistent with known patterns of human rights violations in the country.
Restrictions on Freedom of Belief
Only three religious minorities – Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians – are allowed under Article 13 of Iran’s Constitution to practise their religious faith. By contrast, adherents of unrecognized religious groups such as Baha’is, the Ahl-e Haq and Mandaeans (Sabians), are not permitted freedom to practise their beliefs and are particularly at risk of discrimination or other violations of their internationally recognized human rights. Converts from Islam and evangelical Christians who proselytize are also subject to repression.
In addition, Sunni Muslims, who are mostly members of ethnic minorities, also face repression in connection with their religious beliefs. Shi’a Muslims who do not subscribe to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih,1the founding principle of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or who engage in religious practices frowned upon by the authorities, are also at risk of arbitrary arrest and other human rights violations in connection with their beliefs.
At least 19 Baha’is – members of an unrecognized religion in Iran who are banned from publicly expressing their faith, have been arrested since 25 December 2008. Adil Samimi was held for one week for unknown reasons after being arrested on 25 December in the town of Sari in Mazandaran Province. Five months earlier, it is reported that the Iranian authorities pressured his landlord to force Adil Samimi to vacate his shop.
Nine people – all relatives, including a child of four years, some of whom were visiting from Canada - were arrested on 28 December in a shopping mall on the southern holiday island of Kish, reportedly after a local shopkeeper asked them about their faith on discovering they were Baha’is. They were held for up to three days.
Following raids on the homes of 12 Baha’is in Tehran on 14 January 2009, six people were arrested. One was released shortly afterwards, but the other five - Payam Aghsani, Didar Raoufi, Aziz Samandari, Jinous Sobhani and Shahrokh Taef were taken into custody. Jinous Sobhani was formerly an administrative assistant for two NGOs founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi: the Centre for Human Rights Defenders and the Organization for the Defence of Land Mine Victims, but lost her job in December when both NGOs were forcibly closed by the authorities. All five are currently held in Evin Prison in Tehran. None has been allowed visits from family members or a lawyer of their choice, although some of them are said to have been allowed to make one or more brief telephone calls to their families. Their detention was confirmed by the Judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi on 27January 2009, who said they were accused of “propaganda against the system”. Another of the 12 whose homes were searched on 14 January, Nima Haghar, was arrested following a summons on 1 February 2009 and is also being detained in Evin prison.
On 26 January 2009, the houses of seven Baha’is in Mashhad, north-eastern Iran were searched and a woman and a man – Sima Eshraghi and Jalayer Vahdat - were arrested. Their whereabouts remain unknown.
There are also continuing reports of destruction of Baha’i cemeteries, closure of other Baha’i businesses apparently in connection with the faith of the businesses’ owners, and denial of education to Baha’is either by refusing to admit Baha’i students to schools and universities, or by expelling them after admission.
Gonabadi Dervishes of the Nematollahi order2have faced continuing repression by the Iranian authorities over the last three years. Local Gonabadi Dervish groups meet weekly in places of worship called Hosseiniehs.
Gonabadi Dervish Hosseiniehs in several towns and cities have been forcibly closed or destroyed in recent months. At least four teachers were dismissed from their employment in 2008 on account of their participation in Sufi practices. In October 2008, seven were arrested in Esfahan, and five in Karaj, near Tehran, apparently on account of their affiliation to the order.
Most recently, at least six Sufis were arrested on the island of Kish in December 2008 following the enforced closure of the Hosseinieh on the island. Two lawyers who took up their cases - Farshid Yadollahi and Amir Eslami - have reportedly been placed under investigation by the Kish Public Prosecutor, for allegedly “creating unease in the public mind”, after they had been summoned, reportedly on the orders of the Joint Intelligence Bureau of Hormozgan Province.
On 22 January 2009, Jamshid Lak, a Nematollahi Dervish, was flogged 74 times after being summoned to court. He had been sentenced in 2006 to six months’ imprisonment, 74 lashes and a monetary fine after conviction of “spreading lies”, “slander” and “defamation of state officials” by Branch 102 of the General Court in Doroud. The charges had been brought against him after he had written a letter to the country's senior officials, in which he complained of being physically assaulted by a Ministry of Intelligence officer. The sentence was later reduced to 74 lashes by Branch 7 of Lorestan Appeal Court, which acquitted him of “spreading lies” and “defamation”, but upheld the charge of “slander”. His lawyer, Mostafa Daneshju, who had also represented Dervishes detained following the destruction of the Gonabadi Hosseinieh in Qom in February 2006, was subsequently banned from practising law for five years, and was unable to represent Jamshid Lak at his appeal.
Jamal Ghalishorani, 49, his wife Nadereh Jamali, both converts to Christianity and another man, Armenian Christian Hamik Khachikian were all reportedly arrested in Tehran on 21 January 2009. Their whereabouts are unknown. Judiciary spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi, on 27 January confirmed the arrest of one Christian Priest, believed to be Hamik Khachikian, whom he said was accused of “insulting the holy sanctities”. According to Article 513 of Iran’s Penal Code this charge carries the death penalty if it “falls under the rules concerning Cursing the Prophet”; otherwise it carries a sentence of one to five years’ imprisonment.
Payman Fattahi, the leader of a group known as the Al-e Yassin3 was arrested on 14 January 2009 after being summoned to an interrogation session at the Department for Dealing with Religions in the Ministry of Intelligence. Five of his followers – Nazi Hesami (f), Morteza Rasoulian, Sa’id Sourati, Hamid Sourati and Farhad Moradi - are said to have been arrested the following day. Three are known to have been taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence, but the whereabouts of Payman Fattahi, Farhad Moradi and Morteza Rasoulian remain unknown. Payman Fattahi had previously spent about five months in detention after his arrest in May, during which he was reportedly tortured and interrogated about a variety of alleged offences, including “acting against state security”, “establishing a sect”, and “promoting Christianity and atheism”4. The group has also been vilified in state-owned press.
Repressive measures taken against members of ethnic minorities
Iran’s ethnic minorities face widespread discrimination in law and practice. Many suffer disproportionately poor housing and living conditions, some have their land confiscated or are forcibly evicted from their houses and face restrictions in the exercise of their rights to enjoy their own cultures or to use their own languages. While most choose to express their grievances peacefully, the Iranian authorities are facing armed opposition from groups such as the Kurdish group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), and the Baluchi group, the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (formerly known as Jondollah). Amnesty International recognizes the rights and responsibilities of states to bring to justice those accused of recognizably criminal offences, but calls for political prisoners who were unfairly tried to be released if they are not retried in proceedings which meet international standards for fair trial.
Amnesty International has received the names of 37 members of the Ahwazi Arab minority (see Appendix 1), who were reportedly arrested during and in the days following demonstrations held in early January 2009, protesting against the Israeli military action in Gaza. Their place of detention is unknown. The contradiction of these arrests with the publicly stated position of the Iranian authorities over the recent events in Gaza illustrates the cynicism with which those authorities regard human rights.
Following a suicide bombing claimed by the PRMI directed against a police station in Saravan on 29 December 2008, in which at least four people, including two border police officers, are said to have been killed5, at least 30 residents of Saravan are reported to have been arrested6, apparently in reprisal, and taken to unknown locations where they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
Five months after the destruction of a Sunni mosque and seminary in Zabol by the Iranian authorities, at least eight people (some of them Sunni clerics) - Mowlavi Abdollah Brahui, Mowlavi Zabihollah Brahui, Dr Nour Mohammad Shahbaksh and his brother Abdolrahman Shahbakhsh, Hafez Mohammadali, Mohammad Omar Baluch, Abdolqader Naroui, and Mowlavi Ali Naroui remain detained, apparently without charge or trial, by the Ministry of Intelligence, without access to family visits or lawyers of their choice.
Increasing numbers of members of the Kurdish minority are reported to have been arrested in recent months. Many are said to have been held in undisclosed locations for weeks or months and then sentenced on vaguely-worded charges related to national security or for being “at enmity with God”, which usually carries the death penalty. Most are accused of membership of Kurdish groups opposed to the Iranian government, usually PJAK, or its parent organization, the PKK, which wages armed opposition against the government in Iran. At least 14 Kurds are now reported to have been sentenced to death on such charges in the past two years, including one woman – Zaynab Jalalian – sentenced in January 2009 (for a complete list of all 14 members of the Kurdish minority arrested, see Appendix 2).
Other Kurds have reportedly been arrested recently, possibly in connection with their online writings or human rights activities. They include Ali Roorast, a 60-year-old man arrested on 26 January 2009 at his shop in Mahabad and taken to a Ministry of Intelligence facility in the town. Two days later, his son Fayeq Roorast, a 20-year-old first-year law student and blogger, who is said to be a member of the recently-created Association of Students defending Human Rights in Kurdistan, and Ali Roorast’s sister, Hajar Roorast, a teacher and local civil society activist, were also arrested. They are believed to remain in detention without access to family members or lawyers of their choice.
A member of the Azerbaijani minority in Iran, Abdullah Abbasi Javan, a professor at Tehran's Shahid Raja'i University and his nephew, Hossein Hoseini, were among nine people arrested in and around Tehran on 13 November 2008 following the annual celebration of Sattar Khan, an Azerbaijjani hero of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution in Iran. Their families had no news of them until 23 November when they were told that the two were being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison. Hossein Hosseini was released on 21 January, but Abdullah Abbasi Javan remains held without access to family members or a lawyer. He is not known to have been charged with any offence. He also spent 130 days in detention in 2007, accused of “pan-Turkism” and “propaganda against the system”, during which time he was reportedly tortured.
Amnesty International has also received the names of 18 Sunni Azerbaijanis (See Appendix 3) who were among a group of more than 30 reportedly arrested on 14 January 2009 in the village of Khanegah-e Sorkh near Oroumiye, in west Azerbaijan province. They had gathered to protest at the diversion of the water supply to the village towards a sand and gravel extraction complex nearby, and were met by police who forcibly dispersed them, including with tear gas. Some of those arrested are said to have been injured during their arrest, but were only transferred to hospital several hours later. Others were reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated during their two-week long detention. All were released on bail pending trial. At least 21 of those arrested were tried on 1 February before Branch 101 of the General Court of Nazlu, West Azerbaijan Province. The charges against those convicted included “disturbing public order” and “insulting state officials”; and their sentences included prison terms of up to one year, fines, flogging sentences of 74 lashes and enforced residency in the town of Minab, Hormozgan Province, south-eastern Iran.
Arrest of relatives of members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)
On 16 January 2009, security forces arrested about 18 relatives – mostly women aged between 60 and 85 - of members of the PMOI who are currently residing in Camp Ashraf7in Iraq. The family members were all arrested at the airport in Tehran shortly before departing for Iraq to visit their relatives and were taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, where they have not been allowed access to family members or lawyers. They include 85-year old Jamileh Mohammadzadeh, who was intending to visit her son. Reports on 29 January suggested that three from the same family – a man named Bahrami, his wife Atefeh Bahrami and their daughter – were transferred to Rejai’ Shahr (also known as Gohar Dasht) Prison in Karaj. For a partial list of those arrested, see Appendix 4.
Detention and imprisonment of Women’s Rights Activists
Women’s rights defenders, who have been among the most active sectors in Iran’s civil society in recent years, continue to face reprisals on account of their peaceful activities.
Three women – Nafiseh Azad, Bigard Ebrahim and another who wishes to remain unidentified – were arrested on 30 January 2009 while collecting signatures in the mountains near Tehran for the Campaign for Equality, which aims to collect a million signatures of Iranians to a petition demanding an end to discrimination against women in Iranian law. They were transferred to Vozara Detention Centre and on 31 January appeared before a Revolutionary Court judge, who issued Nafiseh Azad with a temporary arrest warrant, but granted bail orders for the other two. Bigard Ebrahim was released on 31 January, and the other individual on 1 February. Nafiseh Azad’s husband, Vahid Maleki, told the Campaign for Equality that he believes his wife was remanded in custody because she had previously ignored a telephone summons calling her for interrogation, on the grounds that, according to the law, she should first be issued with a written summons. On 3 February 2009, officials from the Special Security Branch of the Office of the Prosecutor of the Revolutionary Courts raided Nafiseh Azad’s house, which she shares with two other students Elnaz Ansari and Aida Saadat. Although the warrant shown by the officials related only to the search of Nafiseh Azad’s property, during the raid, property, including phones, computers, DVDs, CDs and documents belonging to both Elnaz Ansari and Nafiseh Azad, was confiscated. The officials also beat Elnaz Ansari and Vahid Maleki, who had come to Tehran from Esfahan to follow his wife’s case. She was released on bail of 500 million rials (approximately US$50,000) on 4 February 2009. She has been charged with “acting against state security by propaganda against the system”.
On 1 February 2009, Alieh Aghdam-Doust, a member of the Campaign for Equality, was arrested and brought under guard to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences to begin a three-year prison sentence imposed after she was convicted of participation in a peaceful demonstration on 12 June 2006 protesting at legalized discrimination against women. The demonstration was forcibly broken up by police, who injured some of the demonstrators and arrested 70. Alieh Aghdam-Doust had originally been sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment and 20 lashes by branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, but this was reduced to three years imprisonment on appeal. She is a prisoner of conscience.
The appeal of four women’s rights activists against their prison sentence for writing for two websites related to women’s rights began on 27 January 2009. Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri, Maryam Hosseinkhah and Nahid Keshavarz were sentenced in September 2008 to six months in jail for their writings for the sites “Change for Equality” and “Zanestan” – which is now banned. The “Change for Equality” website was blocked by the authorities for the nineteenth time earlier this month.
At least five women’s movement activists have been banned from leaving Iran. Most recently, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was banned from travelling to Italy in December 2008 to collect a human rights award. In addition, Esha Momeni, who holds joint US-Iranian nationality, was also prevented from leaving the country after her release on bail. At the time of her arrest in October 2008, she was in Iran to visit her family and to conduct research for her Master's degree thesis on the Iranian women’s movement. As part of her research she had been conducting video interviews with members of the Campaign for Equality in Tehran.
Arrest and harassment of Students
National Student Day was commemorated on 6 December 2008 with two separate meetings at Shiraz University. The main event was organized by students and members of the paramilitary Basij, affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps; whilst independent students organized a smaller event, at which they informed participants that an open public forum for expressing views would be held on 8 December.
On 7 December, 10 students were summoned by the head of the Herasat (an agency which oversees security) and threatened them with severe repercussions should the public forum go ahead. Despite the attempts to stop the event from taking place, several hundred students at Iran's Shiraz University held a demonstration against government policies on 8 December 2008.
According to the website of the Graduates’ Association (Advar-e Tahkim) at least 37 students were later summoned by the Disciplinary Office of the university. At least 18 of them received orders banning them from continuing their education for various temporary periods. In addition, possibly as many as 23 students were summoned by the Intelligence Office in Shiraz in connection with participation in the gatherings. At least 12 of these students (see Appendix 5) were detained at different times for several days before being released on payment of substantial bail. All are believed to have been released by 30 January. Some of the others summoned were not arrested, and others refused to attend on the grounds that they had been summoned by telephone and not by written order as is required by law. Charges brought against those who were summoned and later appeared before the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz are believed to include “acting against state security” and “insulting state officials”. During their detention they were reportedly not afforded access to their lawyers and their family members.
Said Razavi Faghih, a former spokesman of the student body, the Office for the Consolidation of Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), was arrested on 2 February 2009 shortly after returning from France where he had been studying. His passport had been seized at the airport when he returned on 27 January and he was informed that he had been banned from travel. He was told to appear before a branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, where he was arrested, and taken to Evin Prison. He had previously been detained briefly in 2002 during protests by students against the death sentence imposed on reformist cleric Dr Seyyed Hashem Aghajari and for 78 days in 2003, following further student protests, when Amnesty International took action on his behalf8. On 6 February, his lawyer said that while in France, Said Razavi Faghih had been sentenced in absentia to four years in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for “acting against state security” and “propaganda activities against the system” in connection with statements he made, including to meetings of students, in protest at Dr Hashem Aghajeri’s death sentence in 2003. His lawyer said that as he had not been informed previously of the sentence, the Office for the Implementation of Sentences had confirmed that it could be appealed against and he hoped that Said Razavi Faghih would soon be released.
Measures taken against Trade Unionists
The formation of independent trade union bodies, which was banned after the Islamic Revolution, remains prohibited in Iran and those who attempt to form such bodies risk detention and prosecution.
Ebrahim Madadi, the vice-president of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) was arrested on December 27, 2008. According to his lawyer, he was detained in Evin Prison to begin serving a three and a half year prison sentence imposed by Branch 14 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran after being convicted of “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the system”. However, this verdict was never delivered in writing to Ebrahim Madadi or his lawyer, as is required by law. He was therefore not able to appeal against it. The judicial authorities apparently claim that Ebrahim Madadi was informed of this sentence verbally during a previous detention.
Bijan Amiri, a car industry worker and a member of the Workers' Mountain-climbing Board, was arrested in the Iran Khodrow Company factory on 22 December 2008 by the company’s security personnel, following a disagreement. He was then handed over to Ministry of Intelligence officials and was taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison. Mohsen Hakimi, a member of the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers' Organizations and a member of the Iranian Writers' Association, was detained later that same night at Bijan Amiri’s house after he had paid a visit following Bijan Amiri’s arrest. Security forces reportedly came to search Bijan Amiri’s house, interrogated everyone who was there, and then arrested Mohsen Hakimi when they saw his identity card, despite his protests. Mohsen Hakimi has previously been detained for his trade union activities. Bijan Amiri was released on a personal guarantee on 28 January 2009, and is likely to face future legal proceedings, but Mohsen Hakimi remains held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, apparently without access to family members or a lawyer.
At least five Board members of the newly-formed, but unrecognized Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company’s (HTSCC) Workers Syndicate - Ali Nejati, Feraydoun Nikofard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ghorban Alipour and Mohammad Haydarimehr - were tried on 20 December 2008 by the Revolutionary Court in Dezful, southern Iran, on the charge of “propaganda against the system”. They had been arrested in early October 2007, during strikes by the HTSCC workers in an attempt to gain four months of back payment which was owing to them, after which they were released on bail. No verdict is known to have been issued yet.
Release all prisoners of conscience and drop charges against any who are facing trial and who would be a prisoner of conscience if imprisoned;
Release any one else who is detained unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly in accordance with international fair trial standards and without resort to the death penalty;
Lift all travel bans imposed on persons for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;
Commute all death sentences and impose an immediate and comprehensive moratorium on executions, as a first step towards ending the use of this punishment;
Review legislation with a view to repealing or amending all vaguely-worded articles which can be used to restrict freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly, or which discriminate against women or members of ethnic, religious or other minorities;
Permit all individuals and groups to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including in ways which dissent from state policies and practices, in the run-up to the presidential election.
List of names of 37 members of the Ahwazi Arab minority arrested following a demonstration against the Israeli military action in Gaza
1. Reza Ahmadi
2. Tehran Ahmadi
3. Hamid Bawi
4. Ahmad Bani-Toruf
5. Naseem Bani-Toruf
6. Muhammad Janadeleh
7. Amin Cheldawi
8. Zalan Cheldawi
9. Yousef Cheldwai
10. Gahier Hamudi
11. Rashid Haidari
12. Fouad Haidari
13. Faisal Haidari
14. Mahmoud Haidari
15. Hamzah Khasraji
16. Mansour Daghagheleh
17. Jaber Sa'duni
18. Ya'ghub Sa'idawi
19. Mansour Sawari
20. Nasrallah Sawari
21. Yasser Sawari
22. Mahdi Taruf
23. Rahim E'badi
24. Dawud Abiat
25. Ali-Pour Abiat
26. Muhamamdali Abiat
27. Abulamir Fazeli
28. Bashir Kuroshat
29. Amar Kuroshat
30. Hammed Kan'ani
31. Aziz Kan'ani
32. Rasoul Muhammadi
33. Baber Mansouri
34. Ali Musawi
35. Nasser Mahawi
36. Ghazi Naisi
37. Mustafa Naisi
List of 14 members of the Kurdish minority sentenced to death in the last two years
Farzad Kamangar, a 32 year old teacher, was arrested by officers from the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran in 2006. He was initially held incommunicado at a series of locations, including in the cities of Kermanshah, Sanandaj and Tehran, where he was tortured, including by being beaten, flogged and electrocuted. He was sentenced to death in February 2008 after conviction of “enmity against God” – a charge levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state - apparently in connection with his alleged membership of the armed group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which carries out attacks in Turkey, after traces of explosive powder and a gun were found in a house he stayed in with his two co-accused and in a car that they had used. Farzad Kamangar denies any such membership. His trial was grossly flawed. Farzad Kamangar has been prohibited, on several occasions and for prolonged periods of time, from seeing his lawyer and family members. The two other men were also sentenced to death and to 10 years’ imprisonment, apparently for forging documents. Under Iranian law, they must serve their prison sentences before being executed. On 11 July 2008, Farzad Kamangar’s death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. However, his lawyer has submitted his case to a judicial review panel in an effort to have his death sentence overturned. Under Iranian law, death sentences cannot be carried out while under review. He is currently held in Reja’i Shahr Prison, in Karaj, west of Tehran.
Farhad Vakili, arrested with Farzad Kamangar, and also sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for forging documents which must be served before the execution can be carried out.
Ali Haydarian, arrested with Farzad Kamangar, and also sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for forging documents which must be served before the execution can be carried out.
Abdolvahed (Hiwa) Boutimar, an environmental activist was arrested in December 2006. His initial death sentence was overturned, but was reimposed after a retrial. Journalist Adnan Hassanpour, sentenced to death in the same case, had his death sentence after conviction of enmity against God overturned in September 2008 and is awaiting retrial for espionage and working for banned opposition groups.
Anvar Hossein Panahi, a teacher from Dehgalan, was arrested in late 2007 or early 2008, along with Arslan Oliya’i. He was transferred to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Ghorveh, where he is said to have been tortured, which left him in need of hospital treatment. He was sentenced to death for “enmity against God” on 12 July 2008 by the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, possibly in connection with membership of or support for Komala. He appealed against his sentence, but he was informed on 5 August 2008 that it had been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Arslan Oliya’i, arrested alongside Anvar Hossein Panahi, was also sentenced to death for “enmity against God” on 12 July 2008, possibly in connection with membership of or support for Komala. He appealed against his sentence, but he was informed on 5 August 2008 that it had been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Sherko Moarefi, originally from Baneh and previously a refugee in Iraq, was arrested on 1 or 2 October 2008 after he returned to Iran. Held in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility where he was denied any visits from family or lawyer since his arrest, he was reported to have been sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in Saqqez for “enmity against God” in connection with his membership in a Kurdish opposition group, possibly PJAK. His lawyer reportedly said that Sherko Moarefi had not carried out any attacks against Iranian forces during his membership of the group, and had returned to Iran and handed himself over to security forces voluntarily.
Farhad Chalesh, believed to be a Turkish citizen, is believed to have been arrested in June 2008 during an armed clash with Iranian forces between the villages of Fakhur and Mirzakhalil. According to Fars News agency, two PJAK members, one with Turkish and one with Syrian nationality, were arrested at the time. He was injured in the clash and was taken to Arefian Hospital in Oromieh. In January 2009, he was said to have been sentenced to death for “enmity against God” for membership of PJAK.
Ramazan Ahmad, believed to be a Syrian citizen, captured alongside Farhad Chalesh and also injured in the clash with Iranian forces, was sentenced along with Farhad Chalesh for “enmity against God” inJanuary 2009 for membership of PJAK.
Rostam Arkia, from Maku, was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in Maku for “enmity against God” for membership of PJAK. The sentence has reportedly been confirmed by the Supreme Court. He is held in Maku prison. The dates of his arrest and trial are unknown to Amnesty International.
Habibollah Latifi, a 27-year-old law student at the Azad University of Ilam who is from Sanandaj, has been in detention since October 2007. His family were unaware of his location for the first nine days after his arrest, when they found him in hospital in Sanandaj, suffering internal bleeding, believed to be the result of torture. He was returned to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility after he had received medical treatment, where he was reportedly further tortured, including by being beaten and suspended upside down for a long period. This is said to have resulted in injuries to his head and further internal bleeding. He was sentenced to death by Sanandaj Revolutionary Court in July 2008 for “enmity against God” in connection with his alleged involvement in planting bombs and for links to PJAK. His trial was not open and neither his family, nor his lawyer, were allowed to attend.
Fasih (Fateh) Yasmini was arrested during clashes between PJAK and Iranian security forces in the village of Hendavan, near Khoy, in or around February 2008. It is not clear whether Fasih Yasmini was involved in these clashes or not. He was reportedly among a number of villagers arrested, including five girls, his father Hossein Yasmini, and another man Fahim Reza-Zadeh, who are said to have been taken to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Khoy, where Fasih Yasmini was reportedly tortured. His family had no news of him for about two months. Hossein Yasmini was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and Fahim Reza-Zadeh to 15 years’ imprisonment to be served in exile. Fasih Yasmini’s death sentence from the Khoy Revolutionary court is believed to have been upheld on appeal by Branch 10 of the Appeal Court of West Azerbaijan Province and by the Supreme Court.
Zeynab Jalalian (f), aged 27 from Maku, is said to have been sentenced to death in or around January 2009 by Kermanshah Revolutionary Court after eight months in detention in a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility, during which her family had no information concerning her fate. She was convicted of “enmity against God” in connection with her alleged membership of, support for and recruitment to a Kurdish opposition party, possibly PJAK. She is reported not to have been granted access to her lawyer during her trial which is said to have lasted only a few minutes.
Esma’il Fattahian, from Kermanshah and a resident of Sanandaj, was detained in Kamyaran at some time between April and August 2008. Reports suggest that he may have been tortured in detention facilities in Kamyaran, Kermanshah and Sanandaj. Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment, to be served in Ramhormoz Prison in the province of Khuzestan, in a trial in which he was reportedly denied access to a lawyer. Both Esma’il Fattahian and the prosecutor appealed against this verdict, and in January 2009 it was reported that Branch 4 of the Kordestan Appeal Court had overturned the initial verdict, and instead sentenced him to death for “enmity against God” in connection with his membership of an illegal opposition group. Under Article 4 (2) of the Law of Appeals against Court Judgments, Appeal Courts can only increase sentences if the prosecution has appealed against the initial sentence.
List of names of 18 Sunni members of the Azerbaijani minority arrested following a clash over water resources on 14 January 2009
Barzad Nezami Afshar
Mighdad Nizami Afshar
Partial list of relatives of members of the PMOI arrested on 16 January 2009
Sakineh Salimian Zahed
and several members of the Reza'i family
List of names of 12 students at Shiraz University detained after 2008 National Student Day Events (all were released by 30 January 2009)
1) Aboljalil Reza’i, arrested 3 January 2009
2) Kazem Reza’i, arrested 3 January 2009
3) Mohsen Zarinkamar, arrested 3 January 2009
4) Loghman Ghadir Goltapeh, arrested 3 January 2009
5) Ahmad Kohansal, arrested 10 January 2009
6) Enayat Taghva arrested 10 January 2009
7) Abbas Rahmati, arrested 10 January 2009
8) Sa’id Khal’atbari, arrested 10 January 2009
9) Arash Roosta’i, arrested 12 January 2009
10) Hadi Alamli, arrested 12 January 2009
11) Hamdollah Namju, arrested 13 January 2009
12) Alma Ranjbar (f), arrested 14 January 2009
INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT, 1 EASTON STREET, LONDON WC1X 0DW, UNITED KINGDOM
1 The political concept of the absolute authority of Velayat-e Faqih (leadership of the learned man) was developed by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was enshrined as part of the Iranian Constitution adopted in 1979, which stated that overall political authority lies with the Leader, who must not only possess the requisite political capability to lead, but must also be a holy and pious man, as well as an expert in Islamic Law and a marja-ye taqlid - a religious source of emulation for his followers. A 1989 amendment to the Constitution dropped the requirement for the leader to be a marja, but greatly enhanced the political powers of the Leader.
2 Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran consider themselves to be Shi’a Muslims. This Sufi order describes Sufism as neither a religion nor a sect, but rather a way of life by which individuals – from any religion - may find God. See, for example, http://www.sufism.ir/sufischool.php. This is a website belonging to the Gonabadi Dervish order in Europe, which is headed by Dr Sayed Mostafa Azmayesh. In Iran, the Head of the Order is Dr Nour Ali Tabandeh, who was forced to leave his home in Bidokht, the main centre of the order in Iran, in May 2007 and take up residency in Tehran. Several prominent clerics in Iran have issued fatwas attacking Sufis. For example Ayatollah Lankarani said in 2006 that Sufis were “misleading Iranian youth” and that “any contact with them was forbidden”.
3 Al-e Yassin members describe the group as “an academic organization, formed from many different groups such as The Society of Professional Thinkers and Probers, the Al-e-Yassin Association of Interpreters, Writers and Instructors and the (Iranian) Nature Front Association”. They claim to publish various publications including: The Divine Cognition, The Motivators, The Arts of living, The Science of Success, The Journal of Esoteric Science, and The Art of Divine Living, among others. They claim some of these publications have been forcibly closed, that books by the group’s leader have been banned and that websites are filtered and the members of society are called to the Ministry of Security and Intelligence of Iran, on a regular basis. From communication to Amnesty International by email. Similar information can be seen at http://aleyassin.blogspot.com/
4 The group has claimed that the accusations levelled against Payman Fattahi during his arrest included “religious heresy”, “Christian orientation”, “Spiritual Pluralism”, “Striving to unify Islam, Christianity, and Judaism”, “Propaganda”, “Conspiracy against the Islamic System”, “Religious Degeneration”, and “spreading spiritual liberalism and American Islamism”.
5 The Iranian authorities stated that four people had been killed (Press TV, 29 December 2008). Pakistani sources, when commenting on the subsequent closure of the international border between Saravan and Panjgur, stated that around 45 people had been killed, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\12\30\story_30-12-2008_pg7_12 including 15 to 20 foreign nationals, including Afghans and Uzbeks, who were detained nearby after having entered the country illegally http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C12%5C31%5Cstory_31-12-2008_pg7_37. The PRMI claimed that 150 people had perished in the attack (PRMI statement published on various websites).
7 The PMOI is an Iranian opposition group which participated in the Revolution of 1979 but was subsequently attacked by the Iranian authorities. Thousands of PMOI members were arrested, tortured and executed in the following years. In 1986, during the Iran-Iraq war, the PMOI based itself in Iraq and allied itself with the government of Saddam Hussein. Following the US-led military intervention in Iraq in 2003 about 3,400 members of the PMOI were disarmed by the US-led forces at Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s northern governorate of Diyala, where its members still reside. The current Iraqi administration has pledged to remove the PMOI from its territory.
8 Please see Urgent Actions AI Index: MDE 13/023/2003, 10 July 2003; AI Index: MDE 13/024/2003, 31 July 2003; and AI Index: MDE 13/030/2003, 15 August 2003.
Amnesty International February 2009 AI Index: MDE 13/012/2009